Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lawsuit Challenges Wisconsin Law Allowing Pregnant Women To Be Incarcerated For Conduct Deemed Risky to Their Fetuses

The New York Times: Case Explores Rights of Fetus Versus Mother, by Erik Eckholm:

Alicia Beltran cried with fear and disbelief when county sheriffs surrounded her home on July 18 and took her in handcuffs to a holding cell.

She was 14 weeks pregnant and thought she had done the right thing when, at a prenatal checkup, she described a pill addiction the previous year and said she had ended it on her own — something later verified by a urine test. But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug. . . .

_____________________________________

(h/t David Nadvorney)

I found this quotation from one doctor especially chilling:  

“She exhibits lack of self-control and refuses the treatment we have offered her,” wrote Dr. Breckenridge, who, according to Ms. Beltran, had not personally met or examined her. [Dr. Breckenridge] recommended “a mandatory inpatient drug treatment program or incarceration" . . . .

This sounds like something out of The Yellow Wallpaper.

-CEB

October 24, 2013 in Fetal Rights, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Despite Advances, Ethical Problems Continue to Surround Premature Birth

The New York Times - op-ed: End of Life, at Birth, by April R. Dworetz:

FIFTY years ago this Wednesday, Americans were gripped by the fate of a baby — Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the first child born to a sitting president since the 19th century, and John F. Kennedy’s last. He arrived on Aug. 7, 1963, five and a half weeks premature. Despite medical heroics, including the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, he died 39 hours later.

Neonatal care has improved greatly since then. Were he born today, Patrick, who was delivered at 34 weeks’ gestation, would very likely survive and have a healthy life, too.

For all the biomedical advances, though, the key ethical problems surrounding premature birth remain. . . .

____________________________________

H/T: Carol Sanger

August 7, 2013 in Bioethics, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Study Shows Poverty is the Real Danger to Children Exposed to Cocaine In Utero

Salon: Long Term Study Debunks Myth of the "Crack Baby", by Katie McDonough:

After nearly 25 years of research, one of the nation’s largest long-term studies on the so-called “crack baby” epidemic of the 1980s has concluded that there are no statistically significant differences in the long-term health and life outcomes between full-term babies exposed to cocaine in-utero and those who were not.

Instead, researchers found poverty to be a key determining factor in how well children performed later in life. As Hallam Hurt, the former chair of neonatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center and the study’s lead researcher, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine.” . . .

August 4, 2013 in Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Department of Educ. Office for Civil Rights Urges Greater Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: Dear Colleague Letter:

Dear Colleague:

We as a nation need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of young people who become mothers and fathers each year graduate from high school ready for college and successful careers. According to studies cited in the attached pamphlet, Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 26 percent of young men and young women combined who had dropped out of public high schools — and one-third of young women — said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school. And, only 51 percent of young women who had a child before age 20 earned their high school diploma by age 22. The educational prospects are worse at the higher-education level. Only 2 percent of young women who had a child before age 18 earned a college degree by age 30. This low education attainment means that young parents are more likely than their peers to be unemployed or underemployed, and the ones who do find jobs will, on average, earn significantly less than their peers.

To help improve the high school and college graduation rates of young parents, we must support pregnant and parenting students so that they can stay in school and complete their education, and thereby build better lives for themselves and their children. . . .

July 9, 2013 in Parenthood, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rebecca Cook on Brazilian Maternal Mortality Case

Rebecca CookRebecca J. Cook (University of Toronto Faculty of Law) has published Human Rights and Maternal Health: Exploring the Effectiveness of the Alyne Decision. The article is available on readcube.  Here is the abstract:

This article explores the effectiveness of the decision of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the case of Alyne da Silva Pimentel Teixeira (deceased) v. Brazil, concerning a poor, Afro-Brazilian woman. This is the first decision of an international human rights treaty body to hold a state accountable for its failure to prevent an avoidable death in childbirth. Assessing the future effectiveness of this decision might be undertaken concretely by determining the degree of Brazil’s actual compliance with the Committee’s recommendations, and how this decision influences pending domestic litigation arising from the maternal death. Alternative approaches include: determining whether, over time, the decision leads to the elimination of discrimination against women of poor, minority racial status in the health sector, and if it narrows the wide gap between rates of maternal mortality of poor, Afro-Brazilian women and the country’s general female population. Determining the effectiveness of this decision will guide whether to pursue a more general strategy of judicializing maternal mortality.

May 23, 2013 in International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Akiba Solomon on Evangelical "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" Targeting Black Women

Colorlines:  The Missionary Movement to 'Save' Black Babies, by Akiba Solomon:

Last December, Care Net—the nation’s largest network of evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy centers—featured a birth announcement of sorts on the website of its 10-year-old Urban Initiative. Under the headline, “Plans Underway for Care Net’s Newest Center in Kansas City, Mo.!” a block of upbeat text described how a predominantly white, suburban nonprofit called Rachel House had “made contact” with “various African American pastors and community leaders,” who helped them “plant” a “pregnancy resource center” in a predominantly black, poor section of downtown Kansas City. . . .

May 9, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Race & Reproduction, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Khiara M. Bridges on Pregnancy as Injury

Khiara M. Bridges (Boston University School of Law) has posted When Pregnancy Is an Injury: Rape, Law, and Culture on SSRN. Here is the abstract:     

Khiara_bridges

This Article examines criminal statutes that grade more severely sexual assaults that result in pregnancy. These laws, which define pregnancy as a “substantial bodily injury,” run directly counter to positive constructions of pregnancy within culture. The fact that the criminal law, in this instance, reflects this negative, subversive understanding of pregnancy creates the possibility that this idea may be received within culture as a construction of pregnancy that is as legitimate as positive understandings. In this way, these laws create possibilities for the reimagining of pregnancy within law and society. Moreover, these laws recall the argumentation that proponents of abortion rights once made – argumentation that one no longer hears and sees in the debates surrounding abortion. However, recent developments in antiabortion argumentation – namely the notion accepted in Carhart II that it is abortion that injures women – counsel the retrieval of the argument that unwanted pregnancies are injuries to women. Thus, the sexual assault laws are means to legitimatize a claim that may serve as an effective counterdiscourse to prevailing antiabortion argumentation. 

April 17, 2013 in Abortion, Gonzales v. Carhart, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

International Women's Day: Women's Global Health Still at Risk

GlobeThe Huffington Post: International Women's Day 2013: 7 Sadly Disturbing Truths About Women's Bodies (HOW YOU CAN HELP), by Eleanor Goldberg:

On International Women’s Day, we have a number of groundbreaking accomplishments to celebrate. This year alone, women in the U.S. won the right to serve on the front lines in combat and President Obama inched closer to pushing for equal pay for men and women.

Global health for women has also seen some major boons, too. The number of mothers who die during childbirth has been reduced by almost 50 percent and HIV drug prices have fallen by more than 99 percent since 2000.

But we’re not done fighting yet. . . .

March 7, 2013 in International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYC Stirs Controversy with Posters on Teen Pregnancy

The New York Times: Posters on Teenage Pregnancy Draw Fire, by Kate Taylor:

The curly-haired baby looks out from the poster with sad eyes and tears dripping down his tawny cheeks.

“I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” the text next to his head reads.

In another poster, a dark-skinned little girl casts her eyes to the sky and says, “Honestly Mom ... chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”

These images, part of a public education campaign targeting teenage pregnancy that the city unveiled this week, are drawing mounting criticism from reproductive health advocates, women who had children as teenagers, and others . . . .

__________________________________________________________

The two ads described here, in addition to stigmatizing pregnant teens and reinforcing stereotypes, are disturbing in the way they target teen mothers through the fictional accusations of their own babies.  Did the mayor's office forget that it takes two to create a pregnancy?  Blaming "bad mothers" is a time-worn, punitive, and utterly unproductive way to try to address the social realities of poverty and sex and race discrimination.  Read PPNYC's response to the ads here.

-CEB

March 7, 2013 in Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Guardian Offers Timeline of "2012 War on Women"

The Guardian: The War on Women, by Heather Long:

2012 was a tough year for American females as various aspects of female health and reproduction repeatedly took center stage. Politicians and pundits, mainly Republican, made degrading and factually incorrect remarks about rape and contraception. But Democrats also left their mark with an ill-timed snipe at stay-at-home mom Ann Romney, reinvigorating the "mommy wars".

Here are the key moments in the 2012 War on Women . . . .

March 5, 2013 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Contraception, Fetal Rights, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Parenthood, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Sexuality, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No End in Sight to GOP Ignorance and Insensitivity on Pregnancy Resulting from Rape

Huffington Post:  Celeste Greig, California Republican, Claims Pregnancy From Rape Is Rare:

Celeste greigThe president of California's oldest and largest GOP volunteer group took a wrong turn while trying to criticize GOP candidates' missteps on women's reproductive rights when she argued that pregnancies resulting from rape are rare "because the body is traumatized."

Celeste Greig leads the California Republican Assembly, which former President Ronald Reagan once called "the conscience of the Republican Party." It works to elect conservative Republicans to public office. . . . 

There is already a petition asking for Greig's resignation here.  

March 5, 2013 in Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pregnant Texas Teen Sues Parents to Avoid Abortion

TIME: In Texas, a Pregnant Teen Sues Her Parents to Avoid an Abortion, by Bonnie Rochman:

Image1 Earlier this month, Jaime Burnside called an attorney in Texas to help her teen-age son. His girlfriend was pregnant and wanted to have the baby, but her parents wanted her to have an abortion.

It’s the kind of case that invigorates the Texas Center for Defense of Life, which has handled three similar situations in the two years since it was founded. “Parents think they’re making a decision for their daughters like pulling a tooth or getting their tonsils out,” says Stephen Casey, who spoke to the boy’s mother and agreed to file suit against the girl’s parents. “But now that the girl is pregnant, the parents become grandparents and they can’t make a decision for the girl about her unborn child.”. . .

February 27, 2013 in Abortion, In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teen Birth Rate Nearly One-Third Higher in Rural Areas of U.S.

The Hill - Healthwatch:  Study: Teen birth rate highest in rural areas, by Elise Viebeck:

The teen birth rate in rural areas of the United States is nearly one-third greater than in other parts of the country, according to a new study. 

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found declining teen birth rates across the country have been slower to take effect in rural counties. . . . 

February 27, 2013 in Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. 2008 Teen Pregnancy Data – State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity

Guttmacher Institute – News Release: 2008 State-Level Teen Pregnancy Data Now Available, by Rebecca Wind: Image1

Teen pregnancy rates declined steadily in all 50 states between 1988 and 2005. However, between 2005 and 2008, the teen pregnancy rate decreased by 5% or more in 7 states, while increasing by 5% or more in 16 states, according to "U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity." While these short-term increases are troubling, recent evidence from the CDC, including further reductions in teen birth rates in nearly all states between 2008 and 2010 and preliminary numbers indicating a decrease in teen abortions in 2009, indicate that teen pregnancy rates will continue their long-term declines. . . .

February 27, 2013 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Record Low for U.S. Teen Births

The Hill - Healthwatch Blog:  Teen births hit new low, by Elise Viebeck:

The number of teen births has continued to decline in the United States, hitting a record low between 2010 and 2011. 

The new figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show an 8 percent drop in teen births during that period. Just over three percent of 15- to 19-year-olds gave birth in that span. The teen birthrate peaked in 1991, researchers said. . . . 

Added by LP on 2/14/13

February 16, 2013 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Malawi's New President Committed to Reducing Maternal Mortality

The New York Times - Opinionator:  Malawi's Leader Makes Safe Childbirth Her Mission, by Courtney E. Martin:

Malawi is a country of rolling hills and marshy flatlands, where 85 percent of the population live in the countryside, most subsisting on less than $2 per person per day, typically from corn and tobacco farming. It is also a country with extremely high maternal mortality. In the U.S., 1 in 2,400 women are at risk of dying while giving birth over the course of their lives; in Malawi, it is 1 out of 36. If the country’s new president, Joyce Banda, has her way, that will soon change. . . .

February 10, 2013 in Culture, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Family Medical Leave Act Turns 20

Feminist Majority Foundation: Family Medical Leave Act Turns 20:

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which grants job-protected sick leave to those who are recovering or taking care of someone recovering from an illness or those who have had a new child. . . .

February 6, 2013 in Congress, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYC's Teen Pregnancy Rate Has Declined Dramatically Over Past Decade

WNYC - The Brian Lehrer Show: Teen Pregnancy Down

NYC Health Commissioner Thomas Farley talks about why the city’s teen pregnancy rate has been on the decline over the past decade, and why the Bronx still has the highest rate in the country. . . .

______________________

Like the CDC data on sex among Latino/a youth, New York City's experience seems to contradict claims that providing teens with contraception will lead to increased sex, since the decline in pregnancy is attributable both to decreased rates of teen sex and increased use of contraception by sexually active teens.

-CEB

February 6, 2013 in Contraception, In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Call for Submissions: Sarah Weddington Prize for Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights

Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Center for Reproductive Rights:

Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) invite submissions for the eighth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights

The 1st place winning submission will have a presumption of publishability and will receive expedited review by New York University School of Law’s Review of Law and Social Change. Winning authors will also receive cash prizes: $750 (1st place), $500 (2nd place), or $250 (3rd place).

This year’s theme: “Economic (In)Justice of Reproductive Regulation”

LSRJ & CRR seek student scholarship exploring the economic justice implications of laws and regulations that affect reproductive health and rights in the U.S. Papers may explore a range of issues, such as: tensions between affirmative state obligations and individual rights; consequences of health insurance regulation and the needs of individuals seeking preventative and/or “elective” reproductive care (e.g. should reproductive technologies and contraception be covered, and if so, how?); the impact of state support for specific practices (e.g. breastfeeding, vaccinations, birthing options) on the ability of women and families to make decisions about their care; and the role of the state in health care regulation and funding (e.g. how will Medicaid expansion affect reproductive health access? Who is most benefitted and/or who is left out of the Affordable Care Act?). These ideas are examples of topics that would fit the theme; however, many more issues could be fruitfully explored through the lens of economic justice. 

Papers should have a domestic focus, but may draw on international and comparative materials. Authors are asked to apply a reproductive justice lens and/or human rights framework to their analyses of the issues.  We encourage writing that amplifies lesser heard voices, applies an intersectional approach to legal thinking, suggests innovative solutions, and/or takes into account the practical realities and the lived experiences of the people affected.  

Papers must be at least 20 pages in length (not including footnotes), double-spaced in 12-point font with footnotes in 10-point font, conforming to Bluebook citation format. Only original scholarship by current law students or 2012 graduates will be accepted. Papers being considered for publication elsewhere are ineligible for the first place prize but will be considered for second and third place. Papers already contracted for publication as of March 2013 will not be accepted. Winners will be selected by an outside panel of legal and academic judges.

Send your submission (in Word format as an email attachment) to submissions@lsrj.org by 5:00pm PST on Monday, March 4, 2013. Questions? Email Mariko Miki at mariko@lsrj.org

February 1, 2013 in Abortion, Assisted Reproduction, Contraception, Parenthood, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin on the Policing of Pregnancy

Lynn M. Paltrow (National Advocates for Pregnant Women) & Jeanne Flavin (Fordham University) have published Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005:  Implications for Women's Legal Status and Public Health in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.  Here is the abstract:

In November 2011, the citizens of Mississippi voted down Proposition 26, a “personhood” measure that sought to establish separate constitutional rights for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses. This proposition raised the question of whether such measures could be used as the basis for depriving pregnant women of their liberty through arrests or forced medical interventions. Over the past four decades, descriptions of selected subsets of arrests and forced interventions on pregnant women have been published. Such cases, however, have never been systematically identified and documented, nor has the basis for their deprivations of liberty been comprehensively examined. In this article we report on 413 cases from 1973 to 2005 in which a woman’s pregnancy was a necessary factor leading to attempted and actual deprivations of a woman’s physical liberty. First, we describe key characteristics of the women and the cases, including socioeconomic status and race. Second, we investigate the legal claims made to justify the arrests, detentions, and forced interventions.

Third, we explore the role played by health care providers. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings and the likely impact of personhood measures on pregnant women’s liberty and on maternal, fetal, and child health.

January 22, 2013 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)